Many people are opting to obtain their degree online and it is not hard to see why. Studying online has a number of advantages. First of all, it is usually cheaper to obtain a diploma online than it is to obtain the same diploma by studying on campus. Furthermore, studying online allows one to choose his or her study hours. This enables a person who works during the day to study at nights and on the weekends. There are a number of accredited online colleges and universities to choose from, so no matter which field of study one wishes to pursue, he or she can find a suitable educational institution that will provides courses in the chosen subject.
What is Accreditation?
Online Accredited Colleges or universities can apply to receive either national or regional accreditation. National accreditation is conferred by the Distance Education and Training Counsel while regional accreditation is granted by one of the six regional official accreditation agencies in the United States. Accreditation shows that a college or university has been reviewed by an official body and that is provides a high standard of education.
Advantages of Studying at an Accredited College or University
Because some employers will not bother to check whether or not a college or university is accredited, many people feel that accreditation does not matter. However, this is far from the truth. The fact is that many job interviewers are starting to ask about the status of the college or university that has provided the diploma. A diploma from an accredited educational institution is considered legitimate by nearly all prospective employers. Such a diploma shows that one has received a well rounded education in the field in question and is capable of taking on the job that he or she is applying for.
If one wants to pursue further education, then he or she will have to show a diploma from a properly accredited educational institution. If the college or university will not accept the credits and/or diploma that one has, then the entire study course will need to be taken again. It should also be noted that one can only obtain Federal financial aid if he or she studies at an accredited educational institution.
Regional Accreditation vs. National Accreditation
Nationally accredited colleges are not necessarily better than regionally accredited colleges. Each type of accreditation is valid and shows that the educational institution has passed a comprehensive review of its programs, faculty, finances, courses and more. However, there are some important differences between regional and national accreditation that are important to be aware of.
If an accredited online colleges have been accredited on a national level, then it will accept transferring students that have started their studies at a regionally or nationally accredited college or university. On the other hand, regionally accredited educational institutions will only accept credit transfers from other regionally accredited educational institutions. Those who want to further their studies later on may want to choose a regionally accredited college or university.
On the other hand, regionally accredited educational institutions are often quite expensive. The cost of obtaining a degree may be well over $50,000. Nationally accredited colleges and universities are often a lot cheaper than their regionally accredited counterparts.
Well Known Regionally Accredited Institutions
Many online colleges and universities are accredited on a regional level as opposed to a national level. Some of the best known educational providers with regional accreditation are:
- University of Phoenix
- Ashton University
- Boston Online University
- Cambridge College Online
- Franklin Online University
- DeVry University Online
- Jones International University
- Kaplan University Online
Some well known educational institutions that have national instead of regional accreditation are:
- Arizona State University
- Miami Dade College
- University of Central Florida
- Ohio State University
- Houston Community College
What One Should Know About the Top Accrediting Bodies
Distance Education and Training Council (DETC)
DETC is a relatively young organization that is in charge of providing national accreditation to all distance education providers in the United States. It is not a government institution but the accreditation it provides is recognized by both the U.S. Department of Education and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA). Like all other educational accreditation providers, it is a not for profit institution and does not accept monetary reimbursement from the colleges and universities it provides accreditation for.
Regional Accreditation Institutions
Each of the six bodies that provide regional accreditation cover one particular area of the United States and no one body is more important than the other. These six agencies are:
- Middle State Colleges and Schools Association (Commission on Higher Education)
- New England Schools and Colleges Association (Commission on Technical and Career Institutions and Commission on Institutions of Higher Education)
- North Central Colleges and Schools Association (The Higher Learning Commission)
- Northwest Schools and Colleges Association
- Southern Colleges and Schools Association (Commission on Colleges)
- Western Schools and Colleges Association (Accrediting Commission for Community, Junior and Senior Colleges and Universities)
The accreditation provided by each of these agencies is recognized by the U.S. Department of Education and CHEA. Colleges and universities that have been accredited by these agencies can be found on any given agency’s website.
Those who want to study online should take the time to choose the right online college or university. The educational provider does not have to be known on a national level but it should be either nationally or regionally accredited. Accredited online colleges and universities have passed rigorous examinations and have proven that they offer high quality educational programs. Furthermore, many employers are only willing to hire graduates who have taken a course at a nationally or regionally accredited educational institution. However, no one form of accreditation is necessarily better than the other. Both forms of accreditation are valid and recognized by the USDE, but there are important differences between the two and one should keep these differences in mind when choosing an online college or university to study with.